Journal article

Trust as a Skill: Applying Psychological Models of Skill Acquisition to Explain the Social Trust Formation Process

Year:

2018

Published in:

Psychology and Developing Societies
social trust
trust formation
psychology of skill acquisition
PIAAC

A growing body of research is considering how social trust is built at the individual and societal levels. This study introduces a new conceptual framework of trust formation by uniting dispositional and experiential determinants into a single analytical framework. By drawing on psychological theories of skill acquisition, we describe trust as shaped by four factors: crystallised, cognitive, contact and context. We combine these four factors into a 4C-component analytical model by establishing links between them and explaining the rationale behind their individual and joint effects on trust. The proposed model is tested with the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) public-use data. Both theoretical and empirical elaborations suggest that context is the strongest driver of trust formation. Good contexts also spur more trust when individuals already possess crystallised knowledge and can display faith in others. Such knowledge can be learned if it is missing, but how efficiently depends on the quality of one’s cognitive system, frequency of contacts with others and the distance between one’s actual knowledge of trust and the optimal level of trust knowledge for the given context.

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